Last week, after sitting in a plane for seven hours (storm, divert to refuel, etc.), our Arizona family finally arrived. Our fifteen-month-old granddaughter must have been so tired of being cooped up and unable to move (much), she took her first steps alone. With each step, her confidence grew. We all clapped and said things like “good job” or “you’re doing great, keep going.” She grinned and landed on her well-padded bum. She scrambled up, holding onto the chair, looked around to see if we were watching, then walked alone again—looking like Steve Martin in Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels as he faked walking on his "newly-healed" legs.
Baby Girl's parents were so excited. So were her grandparents. She walked alone for the first time at our house! Other than pictures and videos or FaceTime, we hadn’t seen her since January. Imagine our thrill that we got to watch a major milestone. In person.
I’m sure most of you know how walking alone progresses. First, it’s standing while holding onto something or someone. Then it’s holding onto the couch and stepping sideways. Ta-da. Moving slowly at first. Plopping down when shaky. Getting back up, crawling forward (because that’s easy). Pulling herself up with the aid of the couch or chair. Trying again.
But that last step is the hardest—letting go. One step, another, wobbly legs, arms out, balance, rush to a safe spot. Grabbing hold. Ahhh. Did it.
It’s the same for anything we try. Baby steps first. We go from one safety net to the next. Holding onto the known. Until, at last, we can let go and plunge ahead.
A writer’s journey goes that way, too. We write, keeping everything to ourselves. We tentatively talk to another writer about the story. Then we let a trusted friend read a chapter. We get some positive feedback and our confidence grows until we can trust that friend or another to read the whole story. Along the way, it isn’t all positive feedback. The negatives cause us to falter. We fall. We get up and try again.
With each positive response—an atta girl, a smile, a kind word—our confidence grows. We know we have to let go. Sending our “baby” out into the world is daunting. Is she ready? Can she stand alone? Will the editor like it? Will readers buy it? What if it gets a bad review?
We have to have confidence to keep on going. Remember that toddler taking her first steps. We will fall down. But it’s the getting back up and trying again that makes us a success.